Four Years of the Winter Redwood Wilderness Perfume

Juniper Ridge has been working on, and producing, limited runs of the Field Lab Wilderness Perfume called Winter Redwood every February for the past four years. With the launch of our latest harvest, we thought we would take a stroll down memory lane and scrapbook our creative process in the development of this love song to California’s North Coast forests.

From Hall Newbegin’s Field Notes, 02/02/2012 “Winter Redwood is Mount Tamalpais in the Winter. It is my attempt to capture that place I love so much. I am a mushroom forager and I spend a lot of time crawling through the manzanita and oaks looking for wild mushrooms. The steep slopes of the mountain come alive in the Winter. It’s that feeling. It’s that smell. It’s beyond that smell – hiking on Mount Tam in the Winter, with the Bay Laurel, the Oaks, the Redwoods, the wet soil, the mushrooms, the sea-salt air, the wood smoke from neighboring fireplaces – all that stuff. I took a run at this last year and wasn’t completely happy with it. It was too redwood-y and green, it was too much a Summertime fragrance. It needed more smokiness, more earthiness…I took a run at counter-balancing it and it worked. The redwoods smell completely different in the Wintertime than they do in the Summertime. There is a lot more richness and is a lot more emotionally evocative to me. The Summer is beautiful too, but the air is more light and evergreeny – warm wind coming through the woods kind of smell. Winter air has a marvelous richness in these coastal, mountain forests and is very much its own thing.”

Back in 2012, Winter Redwood was our first Field Lab fragrance – Wilderness Perfumes that we develop in the van, on the trail and by the campfire using heritage perfume making techniques. Field Lab is our seasonal wilderness perfume, and it defines the outer, experimental edge of what we do. Produced in extremely small batches, these aromatic snapshots reflect the rugged, aromatic landscapes they come from. Field Lab captures the sun, rain, and earth, always delivering a glimpse of life on the trail.

Another entry from Hall Newbegin’s Field Notes from the 2013 harvest

“Goddamn me, why do I always do this? It’s dusk and I’m way off trail, scrambling over fallen logs, crawling beneath the scrub oaks, all because I thought there might be some wild Matsutakes or Chanterelles back here. I’ve found them here before, but nothing this time. The ground is wet and the mycelium, the giant living body of mushrooms beneath the soil, is alive and drinking up the rain – they’ll be here soon, I can smell it in the air, the mushroom bloom is coming. Woodsmoke in the rapidly darkening evening makes me think about getting back home, my jeans soaked through at the knees.”

The last truly wet winter we had here on the north coast was harvest 2013. Hall remembers: “I’m blending our Winter Redwood seasonal fragrance right now – redwood bark, California bay, moss, wild mushrooms, smoke… I keep thinking about what’s it’s like on Mt. Tam when I’m out mushrooming – crawling around beneath scrub oaks looking for matsutakes, the cool air, dusk setting in and making me think of getting back home…”

This month, the company debuts Harvest #2224-7 of Winter Redwood Backpacker’s Cologne, a love song to the misty Redwood canyons of Mt. Tamalpais. “Mt. Tam is my favorite place on Earth,” says Juniper Ridge Founder Hall Newbegin, who lives on the mountain and has spent two decades exploring its untrailed valleys. “Winter is the best time of year to lose yourself in its rich, quiet beauty.” With spicy notes of Bay Laurel, Redwood, Doug Fir, and Sage, along with hints of woodsmoke and ocean, Winter Redwood will take you on a hiking adventure through this mysterious coastal wilderness north of San Francisco.

Check out the itinerary from our February 2014 Winter Redwood harvesting trip

– wildharvest pitch covered Douglas Fir cones for tincturing
– wildharvest California Nutmeg trimmings for tincturing
– wildharvest Manzanita Blossoms for enfluerage demonstration
– Wild crafted Mount Tam Cocktails
– Wilderness Perfume discussions
– California Ecology roundtable
– Enfluerage demonstration
– sea grass low tide wild harvest
– Bluff hike – coastal herbs
– “destructive distillation” demonstration
– Tincturing demonstration
– Wildcrafter Spring Water Mead
– Juniper Ridge portfolio tour
– How Perfumes get made demonstration
– Field Lab Van event
– Backroads perfume distillation
– amazing views near the peak

Obi, Juniper Ridge’s Chief Storyteller gives the final note: “I’ve been involved with all four Winter Redwood formulations, and it has become for me a time of year I look forward to, for not only the great beauty that we capture, but because it is always a great party with the Juniper Ridge team. We always find new plants, new fragrance extraction techniques and new ways of looking at these magnificent forest, but our goal remains the same: to deliver the best expression of this beautiful ecology, that we can… an aromatic snapshot, a moment in time and space, a window into our life on the trail.”